The Cosmic Power of Kenotic Prayer: From Egocentricity to the World’s Salvation

In the last post, we looked at the debilitating effects of egocentricity and philautia. I also suggested that when the nous functions properly, being God-centered replaces egocentricity and the love of God and neighbor takes the place of philautia.  In this post, I would like to examine how the nous is renewed through prayer of cosmic dimensions by reflecting upon the writings and counsels of Elder Sophrony, the spiritual child of Saint Silouan the Athonite.  In Elder Sophrony’s work, Saint Silouan the Athonite, the Elder speaks about “prayer for the entire Adam,” which can occur only once the … [Read more...]

The Blessing and the Bane of Expectations

Expectations exert a powerful influence over our lives. Psychologically, they can orient us away from the past and into the future with the belief that a change will take place. This belief in turn can make it easier to entertain new thoughts and to experiment with new behavior. The expectation that we will meet the Savior can increase our watchfulness and encourage us to try saying the Jesus prayer and making some time for prayer alone. Saint John Chrysostom even teaches that being watchful and in a state of expectation is what enables us to enjoy the benefit of the grace of God (Homily on … [Read more...]

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

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The Sacredness of Childhood, the Weeping of Rachel, and the Tragedy in Connecticut

Of all the suffering around us in this world of ours, the suffering and death of innocent children especially make us shudder with horror, because there is something so sacred and pure about childhood. And what is sacred and pure must never be trampled upon or defiled. Our compassionate Savior said to his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” What makes children especially worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven? Saint John Chrysostom teaches that children have an angelic simplicity about them. They cry one moment and laugh cheerfully the next. … [Read more...]

All Things Work Together for Good: Even Fear?

The last blog post on fear produced a great deal of response from readers and I would like to address some of those responses in a follow-up post on the same subject. Psychologists contrast fear and anxiety. Fear involves thinking that something is threatening, while anxiety involves feeling vulnerable and unsafe. There are realistic fears and unrealistic fears, just as there is existential angst about dying and pathological anxiety about issues stretching from crowded elevators to speaking in public. In any case, the problem begins with the thoughts, in this instance, thoughts of feared … [Read more...]

Prayer for the Departed

In our last post, we spoke about the importance of thoughts related to remembrance of death and the relation of those thoughts to repentance. For any thought to have strength to effect a change deep within the soul, it needs to be incarnate in daily life and find expression in human behavior. For the Christian, the remembrance of death is also the remembrance of eternal life; and that remembrance becomes strong only by contact with death and with true life. Saint John Maximovitch, who reposed in 1966, often visited the sick in hospitals. He speaks about the comfort of faith in the time of … [Read more...]